27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. was allegedly armed with a knife when police fatally shot him on Monday afternoon. Officers responded to calls of a person with a knife in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood area. Police requested Wallace drop the knife, but he refused and “advanced toward” the officers. Both of the responding officers fired their weapons “several times” as reported by Tanya Little, a spokesperson for the department. After they fired their weapons, the officers put him in their police car and drove him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A video of the incident has been released and it’s hard to tell whether or not he had a knife, but witnesses say he did. The names of the officers have not yet been released, but they were both wearing body cameras. Both officers have been taken off street duty as an investigation has been opened.
Violent protests have followed injuring at least 30 police officers. Hundreds of people are demonstrating their disdain for the shooting in Philadelphia streets, fighting with police officers, and setting buildings and structures ablaze. Protesters are saying this is another instance of racist police brutality, ignoring the fact that Wallace was armed and dangerous.
35 protesters, 5 of which are juveniles, have been arrested throughout Monday night protests, charges are still yet to be released. Officers found 5 firearms on those who were arrested. Protesters began throwing objects at officers soon after the protest began. At least one cop car has been set on fire as well as dumpsters.
Injured officers were struck by bricks, rocks, and other projectiles thrown at them. One female sergeant, 56, has been hospitalized after being hit by a pickup truck. She is suffering a broken leg and other injuries, but is reported to be in stable condition. Police say that other injured officers have been treated and released from the hospital.
A cousin of Wallce, Anthony Fitzhugh, said that he and his family do not agree with the destruction and violence that have followed his cousins death. But he and his family are wondering why officers used lethal force rather than a taser. Fitzhugh said that a relative called police for a mental health call for Wallace who suffered from bipolar disorder and is on medication for it. He said, “I just don’t understand the fact that, the first thing that comes to [the police officers’] mind is, ‘shoot, kill.’ And then the amount of shots. I’m not in agreement with all of the rioting and looting. That’s not being done in his name, that’s not being done in his honor and the family does not agree with that.”
Sources: Fox News, Philadelphia Inquirer; Photo-Philadelphia Inquirer